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How to Make Your Customer Feel You’re A Close Friend In 3 Minutes?

We were launching a new product 3 in 1 coffee sachet, a fighting brand to counter the new product launched by our major competitor. Because we were the market leader with more than 60% share, the competition came out swinging. They got several popular artists to endorse their brand. In just 2- months they were available in supermarkets, hypermarkets, most “sari-sari” stores (they call it “warung” in Indonesia). I estimated they had a coverage of 250,000 outlets in 2 months.

They then flooded the media: TV ads, Radio, Print, BillBoards, Store Boards, Poster, Gondolas, etc.. Our media competition reports showed they spent 8,000 gross rating points per month. No wonder, you saw their ads at dawn till dusk, from merienda time to midnight snack. You thought you will escape them in radio, but no, the same thing they were there too!

Great promotion. Great Placement. What about the price? It was unbelievable. They sold for buy 2 get 1 free for a 33% discount! They were practically selling at a loss. This competitor was out for our blood and wanted to grab our market! Actually, this group has been known to challenge the market leader in other industries by doing exactly the same thing: unbelievable pricing with crazy promotions. And, they have succeeded in the past in grabbing 20-30% of share of the market leader

Pressure from the shareholders was at its peak for me as Group Sales Director. We must stop the bleeding fast! I gathered the troops and I do have the troops: 1,700 salesmen in 250 branches and over 500k accounts sold to every month.

“Let’s show this competitor what happens when they try to get in our turf!” I declared. “I want 300,000 coverage in 2-weeks! Are you with me?”. With a roar and full-energy the team shouted and screamed: “Yes, yes, yes!”

Now, this is not an easy task. We never achieved a 300k outlet coverage in 2 weeks in the past. At most, new product launches got 25-30% coverage or 150k outlets in 1 month and I was demanding 60% in 2- weeks. Outlets were reluctant to take on new products as the market was crowded with 3 in 1 coffee sachets already.

Can NLP help in a situation like this?

We were deep into training all our sales force our NLP Leapfrog Sales Techniques when this competition came. We gave them 7 tools using NLP techniques confidently sell more. One of the 7 tools was to make a customer feel you are a close friend in 3 minutes even if this was the first time to meet.

The first time I heard about the NLP techniques to build rapport with anyone in 3 minutes, I was very skeptical because as I knew there were difficult clients whom I just could not understand and build rapport with. However, when I started using the techniques, I was simply amazed at the speed of how it works even with previous hard to connect people.

It was great timing that we taught these techniques to our salesforce under the heavy attack by our competition. I got comments and stories from our salesmen from using the techniques like these:

“Boss, even if you stop me from using these techniques, I will still use it. Because of NLP I can achieve my targets!”

“Sir, last Monday, I started distributing our new product, in the morning, none of the customers wanted to buy. I was frustrated and pressured because the target was 100% coverage for the new product. Even if I offered consignment, they did not want to keep it!

By lunch break, I called my other salesman friend to find out how he was doing. My heart sunk when my friend said he was selling every outlet! But, I was surprise when my friend said he was using the NLP technique of mirror and match that we learned just last Saturday.”

And so, after lunch I tried using the technique. Quickly the first customer had a connection with me and I was able to sell, not even offer consignment! Then the second one, also was joking with me more after a while and so I was able to sell. Then the third then the forth ... I ended up selling to all my customers after lunch with only 30% needing the consignment last recourse strategy!

Boss, NLP works. Thank you for the training last Saturday.”

And so, I monitored our daily “strike” or accounts sold for the new product. The team was so focused and united. There was an air of excitement as the numbers came in. We had 12 days to make the 300,000 outlets. First day, 8.5% then 18% then 26% then 34% ... then 53% by day 6. Hurray we were halfway and on track. Seventh day slowed down to 59% and behind by 0.5% I rallied the troops. “Think about this competitor getting 20% of our share ... that will be a 33% drop in our sales!” People respond to buying a medicine to get rid of pain more than a vitamin to keep healthy.

This re-energized the troops. By the night day we were 79% of target and on day 12: 301,156 outlets had our new products. It was a record for our sales team. We were now 51k outlets more than the competition with our fighting brand.

Once you become aware of these techniques your will also be amazed at how effective it is and can use it to develop good relationships with clients because you will be able to connect and communicate in their language and not your own.

Do you want to learn how ? Say YES and read on ...


Rapport - used in English to imply harmony, a feeling of shared understanding, and of being at one - is the most important process in any interaction. Without rapport, two people will not trust each other and probably will not even hear each other correctly.”

My definition of rapport: the person feels you are a close friend who can be trusted

We have all created rapport many times - when we are with an old friend, or sometimes when we meet a stranger and somehow it feels like we have known him or her all our lives. I am sure we have experienced this phenomenon in the past. You may think it just happens or by accident, but there is a neuro-science to it and we can establish rapport deliberately.

Rapport is a process, not a thing. Rapport is something we do with another person.

• There are things we can do to establish rapport.

Rapport is responsiveness - you do not have to ‘like’ the other person.

• The non-verbal aspects of communication known as paralanguage (voice tone, body language) convey information about our relationship with the listener. This forms the context in which the content of the words is understood. (e.g., "That was really good!" conveys the opposite meaning if the voice tone is sarcastic and the body language dismissive.

• Psychologists have discovered three elements to rapport: ('Social Intelligence: The New Science of Human Relationships' by Daniel Goleman)

o mutual attention, where each person is tuning in to the other

o shared positive feeling - mostly conveyed by non-verbal messages

o synchrony - people unconsciously respond to each others’ movements and gestures

If you do not have rapport, you will not get your outcome. In any conversation, neither of you will get anywhere until you have established rapport.

Matching, Mirroring, Responsiveness and Rapport the Easy Way

We can create the ‘synchrony’ element of rapport deliberately through process called matching - physically matching the body language of the other person. People like people who are like them. Mirroring in NLP: as the name suggests, this is matching someone as if you were his or her mirror image. You can watch many you tube video’s about this, however, they teach it in the wrong way. If you follow them then people will notice that you are copying their gestures. The general teaching is: Look at the gestures of the person then after 5 seconds, do exactly what the other person does. This can work but if the other person notices that you are copying them then it is counter productive and rapport is totally lost when they notice. How would you feel if someone was deliberately copying your gestures?

What I teach is full-proof against getting noticed and powerfully communicates to the subconscious mind of the customer to like you.

Right Things you can match:

Body posture: You will notice other people doing this unconsciously. Here you copy the inclination of the body of the person. If they are sitting- straight then sit straight. If they are slouched then

copy their slouch. Matching the angle of the spine works well and is not obvious. No one has complained to me on why my body inclination is the same as theirs.

Breathing: Breathing has a rhythm, which you can match. It also can be deep or shallow, and people can breathe from the chest or the abdomen. So, copy how the rhythm and location of breathing of the other person. This is one of the most powerful because when you have the same body inclination and breathing pattern, you will even be able to feel how the person feels.

Blinking: Each person has an unconscious pattern of blinking. Some people every 5 seconds, others every 3-4 seconds and others even longer. Copy the blinking pattern! As soon as the person blinks his/her eyelids then blink also! I have never encountered anyone complaining to me that I was copying their blinking pattern. Of course, if the person has a fluttering eyelid deficiency then do not copy this.😊

Voice tone: You can copy the voice tone. If their volume is loud then speak at the same volume or soft then speak soft. If their speed is fast then follow also and if slow then make an effort to slow down. If their tone is higher than yours then make an effort to follow their tone but be careful if your tone and their tone are octaves apart then better avoid copying the tone. Accent is also best left alone as it is so obvious when you copy them!

Movement rhythms / Gestures: You need to be careful when matching movements. You can match someone’s gestures but only do micro-mirroring. People do things they are almost unaware of - scratching their chin, flicking their hair, crossing their legs - and you can match this subtly or micro- mirroring rather than full mirroring by some equally natural-looking movement. When the person touches their chin, just move your arm up to touch your chest or hands. If they cross their legs then make a slight cross of your hands. If they flick their hair then just touch your shoulders. You do not need to do full mirroring

Representational systems. People have a dominant way of speaking, some are visual, auditory or kinesthetic. For now just follow and observe the favorite words used by the person and use those to gain more rapport. We will learn more about the representation systems of people in other articles.

Why does mirroring and matching work? In neuroscience we have learned that anything that is familiar to the subconscious mind is positive and is liked. Therefore, when the person’s sees you having the same inclination, breathing, inclination and micro-movements, their subconscious will send a signal that you are similar to them therefore liked!

Do this Now.

Observe. Look around you and try to find two people talking to each other. Observe the body posture and movements, if possible the tone of their voice, speed and style of language. You will start to be aware that people in rapport are like dancing the swan lake and synchronized in movement ! If you hear their tone, speed and type of speech, you will also notice that they are similar ! (The easiest to spot are lovers. Notice how they are in total rapport.) On the other hand, people without any rapport are having different body posture, movements, tone, speech language, etc.

Practice. Do the NLP techniques above of building rapport with a friend or even a total stranger whom you just met and observe how eventually you feel you get a connection with him.

How do you know when you have rapport?

1. You will feel it. Alternatively, get a sense of being at one with the other person. Conversely, if you lose rapport, or put a foot wrong, you will feel uncomfortable. We have all had that experience. However, you can just do some more matching and get back into rapport again.

2. Pacing and leading. ‘Pacing’ is the word from NLP jargon meaning matching someone, falling into step with them, entering into their model of the world. You can pace someone’s ideas, beliefs and experiences as well as their words and behavior (you do not have to share those ideas; you just have to fall into step with them for a while).

Human beings have a natural tendency to fall into step with each other. Therefore, after you have matched someone for a while, you can do something slightly different - slow you are breathing down, uncross your legs, or scratch your nose - and if you have rapport, the other person will follow you. If they do not, do some more matching.

3. Skin color changes. When people feel relaxed, capillaries in the skin dilate so the skin appears darker (in dark-skinned people) or pinker (in light-skinned people).

4. The other person may tell you. They may say something like “I feel like I have known you for ages” or “I’ve never told anyone this before, but...|

Influencing with Integrity

Is pacing and leading manipulative?

In the long term, manipulative behavior never works. Usually the other person will spot what the manipulator is trying to do because they seem ‘false’ or not fully human in their responses. Ultimately, it depends on your intention. If you respect the other person and dovetail your desired outcome with his or hers, you will get a win-win situation and everyone is satisfied. If not, neither party will achieve their outcome.

Rapport works both ways - as you clear the channels of communication between you and the other person, you are opening yourself up to be influenced by them as well. Therefore, it is important that you maintain yourself in a good state.

Practicing Rapport

There are a number of ways you can practice and sharpen your rapport skills. If you actually do these exercises, you will soon become better than most NLP master practitioners.

Notice examples of people in rapport around you - on the train, in a bar, at work, anywhere that people gather.

Practice non-verbal rapport with strangers. You can unobtrusively match someone’s posture or breathing (just as you may have done unconsciously many times in the past). Do not be surprised if they strike up a conversation with you.

Choose a different aspect of rapport to practice every day, or even for a week. One week you could copy blinking and body inclination; when you have mastered that, you could move on to breathing, then representational system, and so on. I have found that copying body inclination, breathing and blinking already works.

Watch TV. Notice the type of words that people on the TV are using. Listen to the type of language used rather than the content. Does the character or presenter use mainly visual words, or mainly feeling, or what? Practice until you can spot the dominant language used and get the content of what they are saying at the same time.

• When that gets too easy, rephrase what they are saying in a different language pattern. Never again, will there be "nothing on TV tonight".

Learn more from Jojo Apolo in our upcoming Performance Leadership Workshop on 27 Feb to 01 March and 8-10 October in Singapore or 01-03 July in KL, Malaysia. While, we are running Leapfrog Your Business & Yourself Seminar on March 7-9 and June 7-9 in Manila, Philippines or November 1-3 in Jakarta, Indonesia. Both courses include NLP Basic Practitioners Certification Course

About the Author Jojo Apolo. Asia’s Revenue Breakthrough Leader. Author. Public Speaker. NLP Master Trainer. His passion is to help people and businesses get what they want by teaching Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP). He managed major FMCG companies in Indonesia and start-ups in the brink to become profitable. He developed the New Breakthrough Selling Advantage for Sales Professionals using NLP that has resulted in doubling a business from USD 500 million to USD 1 billion in 3 years. He established a 500,000 direct outlet coverage via 300 distribution networks with real-time sales & stock systems. He pioneered the use of IPAD’s for salesmen, use creative “Quantum Sales” games and established same-day delivery service guarantees for pharma products. He has given numerous seminars on sales, personal & spiritual development in Southeast Asia. He is a certified Master Practitioner and Trainer of NLP from the National Federation of Neuro-Linguistic Programming, USA and the American Union of NLP, USA, Certified NLP Practitioner Trainer of NLP Academy, UK under John Grinder co-creator of NLP. He spearheads the REFORM program for Drug Rehabilitation across the Philippines in cooperation with the Department of Health and numerous religious organizations. He is the author of the book “Be Free from Painful Memories and Traumas in 30 minutes, 7-Step New Breakthrough Selling Advantage, i-Thrive: 7 Keys to a Fruitful Life and co-author with Dr. Romy Paredes of Awaken the Doctor in You.

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